23 Compelling Poems About Individuality

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Here are my favorite poems about individuality categorized:

  • Famous poems about individuality
  • Poems about self-identity
  • Poems about self

So if you want the best poems about individuality, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

23 Best Poems About Individuality (Categorized)

Compelling Poems About Individuality

Celebrate the uniqueness of the individual with this collection of the best handpicked poems about individuality.

From works that celebrate the power and beauty of being true to oneself to pieces that explore the complex nature of self-identity and the search for authenticity, these poems offer a glimpse into the many ways in which we define ourselves as individuals.

Featuring works by some of the greatest poets of all time, as well as contemporary voices that capture the modern-day experience of navigating the complexities of identity, this collection showcases the enduring appeal and significance of the individual in the human experience.

Whether you’re seeking inspiration to embrace your own uniqueness or simply looking to reflect on the beauty and complexity of human diversity, these poems are sure to resonate with you on a deep level.

Keep reading!

My #1 Favorite Poem About Individuality

Legs of a woman in white dress enjoyong the sand on the beach.

“The River” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I am a river flowing from God’s sea
Through devious ways. He mapped my course for me;
I cannot change it; mine alone the toil
To keep the waters free from grime and soil.
The winding river ends where it began;
And when my life has compassed its brief span
I must return to that mysterious source.
So let me gather daily on my course
The perfume from the blossoms as I pass,
Balm from the pines, and healing from the grass,
And carry down my current as I go
Not common stones but precious gems to show;
And tears (the holy water from sad eyes)
Back to God’s sea, from which all rivers rise
Let me convey, not blood from wounded hearts,
Nor poison which the upas tree imparts.
When over flowery vales I leap with joy,
Let me not devastate them, nor destroy,
But rather leave them fairer to the sight;
Mine be the lot to comfort and delight.
And if down awful chasms I needs must leap
Let me not murmur at my lot, but sweep
On bravely to the end without one fear,
Knowing that He who planned my ways stands near.
Love sent me forth, to Love I go again,
For Love is all, and over all. Amen.

Famous Poems About Individuality

Chic boho woman in a white short blouse.

“Individuality” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

O yes, I love you, and with all my heart;
Just as a weaker woman loves her own,
Better than I love my belove’d art,
Which, till you came, reigned royally, alone,
My king, my master. Since I saw your face
I have dethroned it, and you hold that place.

I am as weak as other women are–
Your frown can make the whole world like a tomb.
Your smile shines brighter than the sun, by far;
Sometimes I think there is not space or room
In all the earth for such a love as mine,
And it soars up to breathe in realms divine.

I know that your desertion or neglect
Could break my heart, as women’s hearts do break.
If my wan days had nothing to expect
From your love’s splendor, all joy would forsake
The chambers of my soul. Yes, this is true.
And yet, and yet–one thing I keep from you.

There is a subtle part of me, which went
Into my long pursued and worshipped art;
Though your great love fills me with such content
No other love finds room now, in my heart.
Yet that rare essence was my art’s alone.
Thank God you cannot grasp it; ’tis mine own.

Thank God, I say, for while I love you so,
With that vast love, as passionate as tender,
I feel an exultation as I know
I have not made you a complete surrender.
Here is my body; bruise it, if you will,
And break my heart; I have that something still.

You cannot grasp it. Seize the breath of morn,
Or bind the perfume of the rose as well.
God put it in my soul when I was born;
It is not mine to give away, or sell,
Or offer up on any altar shrine.
It was my art’s; and when not art’s, ’tis mine.

For love’s sake, I can put the art away,
Or anything which stands ‘twixt me and you.
But that strange essence God bestowed, I say,
To permeate the work He gave to do:
And it cannot be drained, dissolved, or sent
Through any channel, save the one He meant.

“I Am” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I know not whence I came,
I know not whither I go
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk,
Another truth shines plain.
It is in my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.
I know that the earth exists,
It is none of my business why.
I cannot find out what it’s all about,
I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
I am here for a little space.
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
How easily right all wrong.
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
To help his fellows along.
Cease wondering why you came–
Stop looking for faults and flaws.
Rise up to day in your pride and say,
“I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world
There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me or I would not be,
I am here to strengthen the plan.”

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

beautiful young woman at sunset

“My Shadow and I” by Freeman Edwin Miller

A something, not of earth or sky,
Beside me walks the ways I go,
And I–I never truly know,
If I am it or it is I.

It soothes me with its tender speech,
It guides me with its gentle hand,
But I–I can not understand
The links that bind us each to each.

I hear the songs of golden days
Fall softly on the saddened years,
But know not whose the hungry ears
First feasted on the roundelays.

I feel the hopes, the yearnings brave,
Within my bosom surge and roll,
But know not whose the Master Soul
That called their glories from the grave.

I see the great world’s greater curse,
Dark struggles on through darker days,
But know not whose the eyes that gaze
Through all the sobbing universe.

O, Shadow mine! Beneath my brow
I feel thy thoughts, and in my heart
Thy fondest longings madly start!
Thou art myself and I am thou!

“I Am the World” by Dora Sigerson Shorter

I am the song, that rests upon the cloud;
I am the sun;
I am the dawn, the day, the hiding shroud,
When dusk is done.

I am the changing colours of the tree;
The flower uncurled;
I am the melancholy of the sea;
I am the world.

The other souls that, passing in their place,
Each in his groove;
Outstretching hands that chain me and embrace,
Speak and reprove.

‘O atom of that law, by which the earth
Is poised and whirled;
Behold! you hurrying with the crowd assert
You are the world.’

Am I not one with all the things that be
Warm in the sun?
All that my ears can hear, or eyes can see,
Till all be done.

Of song and shine, of changing leaf apart,
Of bud uncurled:
With all the senses pulsing at my heart,
I am the world.

One day the song that drifts upon the wind
I shall not hear:
Nor shall the rosy shoots to eyes grown blind
Again appear.

Deaf, in the dark, I shall arise and throw
From off my soul
The withered world with all its joy and woe,
That was my goal.

“As I Grew Older” by Langston Hughes

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun,—
My dream.

And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose slowly, slowly,
The light of my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky,—
The wall.

I am black.

‘I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.

My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

Beautiful woman in white top holding flowers.

“A Song Of Derivations” by Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell

I come from nothing; but from where
Come the undying thoughts I bear?
Down, through the long links of death and birth,
From the past poets of the earth,
My immortality is there.

I am like the blossom of an hour.
But long, long vanished sun and shower
Awoke my breath i’ the young world’s air;
I track the past back everywhere
Through seed and flower and seed and flower.

Or I am like a stream that flows
Full of the cold springs that arose
In morning lands, in distant hills;
And down the plain my channel fills
With melting of forgotten snows.

Voices, I have not heard, possessed
My own fresh songs; my thoughts are blessed
With relics of the far unknown.
And mixed with memories not my own
The sweet streams throng in my breast.

Before this life began to be,
The happy songs that wake in me
Woke long ago and far apart.
Heavily on this little heart
Presses this immortality.

Poems About Self-Identity

Young girl in a white dress in the meadow running away

“Quest” by Carrie Williams Clifford

My goal out-distances the utmost star,
Yet is encompassed in my inmost Soul;
I am my goal—my quest, to know myself.
To chart and compass this unfathomed sea,
Myself must plumb the boundless universe.
My Soul contains all thought, all mystery,
All wisdom of the Great Infinite Mind:
This is to discover, I must voyage far,
At last to find it in my pulsing heart.

“Revery” by Fenton Johnson

I was the starlight
I was the moonlight
I was the sunset,
Before the dawning
Of my life;
I was the river
Forever winding
To purple dreaming,
I was the glowing
Of youthful Springtime,
I was the singing
Of golden songbirds,—
I was love.

I was the sunlight,
I was the twilight,
I was the humming
Of winged creatures
Ere my birth;
I was the blushing
Of lily maiden,
I was the vision
Of youthful striving,
I was the summer,
I was the autumn,
I was the All-time—
I was love.

“Shadow” by Bruce Nugent


On the face of the moon

Am I.

A dark shadow in the light.

A silhouette am I
On the face of the moon
Lacking color
Or vivid brightness
But defined all the clearer
I am dark,
Black on the face of the moon.
A shadow am I
Growing in the light,
Not understood
As is the day,
But more easily seen
I am a shadow in the light.

Attractive young african-american woman sitting surrounded by purple flowers

“The Song of the Smoke” by W. E. B. Du Bois

I am the smoke king,
I am black.
I am swinging in the sky,
I am ringing worlds on high;
I am the thought of the throbbing mills,
I am the soul of the Soul toil kills,
I am the ripple of trading rills.
Up I’m curling from the sod,
I am whirling home to God.
I am the smoke king,
I am black.

I am the smoke king,
I am black.
I am wreathing broken hearts,
I am sheathing devils’ darts;
Dark inspiration of iron times,
Wedding the toil of toiling climes,
Shedding the blood of bloodless crimes,
Down I lower in the blue,
Up I tower toward the true.
I am the smoke king,
I am black.

I am the smoke king,
I am black.
I am darkening with song,
I am hearkening to wrong;
I will be black as blackness can,
The blacker the mantle the mightier the man,
My purpl’ing midnights no day dawn may ban.
I am carving God in night,
I am painting Hell in white.
I am the smoke king,
I am black.

I am the smoke king,
I am black.
I am cursing ruddy morn,
I am hearsing hearts unborn;
Souls unto me are as mists in the night,
I whiten my black men, I blacken my white,
What’s the hue of a hide to a man in his might!
Hail, then, gritty, grimy hands,
Sweet Christ, pity toiling lands!
Hail to the smoke king
Hail to the black!

“The Crystal Gazer” by Sara Teasdale

I shall gather myself into myself again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,
Fusing them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.

I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent,
Watching the future come and the present go,
And the little shifting pictures of people rushing
In restless self-importance to and fro.

“The Bronze Legacy” by Effie Lee Newsome

’Tis a noble gift to be brown, all brown,
Like the strongest things that make up this earth,
Like the mountains grave and grand,
Even like the very land,
Even like the trunks of trees—
Even oaks, to be like these!
God builds His strength in bronze.

To be brown like thrush and lark!
Like the subtle wren so dark!
Nay, the king of beasts wears brown;
Eagles are of this same hue.
I thank God, then, I am brown.
Brown has mighty things to do.

Retro woman looking at herself in the mirror.

“Moments of Vision” by Thomas Hardy

That mirror
Which makes of men a transparency,
Who holds that mirror
And bids us such a breast-bared spectacle to see
Of you and me?

That mirror
Whose magic penetrates like a dart,
Who lifts that mirror
And throws our mind back on us, and our heart,
Until we start?

That mirror
Works well in these night hours of ache;
Why in that mirror
Are tincts we never see ourselves once take
When the world is awake?

That mirror
Can test each mortal when unaware;
Yea, that strange mirror
May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair,
Reflecting it—where?

“Cosmopolite” by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Not wholly this or that,
But wrought
Of alien bloods am I,
A product of the interplay
Of traveled hearts.
Estranged, yet not estranged, I stand
All comprehending;
From my estate
I view earth’s frail dilemma;
Scion of fused strength am I,
All understanding,
Nor this nor that
Contains me.

“Sympathy” by Edith Franklin Wyatt

As one within a moated tower,
I lived my life alone;
And dreamed not other granges’ dower,
Nor ways unlike mine own.
I thought I loved. But all alone
As one within a moated tower
I lived. Nor truly knew
One other mortal fortune’s hour.
As one within a moated tower,
One fate alone I knew.
Who hears afar the break of day
Before the silvered air
Reveals her hooded presence gray,
And she, herself, is there?
I know not how, but now I see
The road, the plain, the pluming tree,
The carter on the wain.
On my horizon wakes a star.
The distant hillsides wrinkled far
Fold many hearts’ domain.
On one the fire-worn forests sweep,
Above a purple mountain-keep
And soar to domes of snow.
One heart has swarded fountains deep
Where water-lilies blow:
And one, a cheerful house and yard,
With curtains at the pane,
Board-walks down lawns all clover-starred,
And full-fold fields of grain.
As one within a moated tower
I lived my life alone;
And dreamed not other granges’ dower
Nor ways unlike mine own.
But now the salt-chased seas uncurled
And mountains trooped with pine
Are mine. I look on all the world
And all the world is mine.
Contains me.

Poems About Self

silhoutte of a beautiful young woman standing on stone at sunset

“Self and Soul” by Madison Julius Cawein

It came to me in my sleep,
And I rose from my sleep and went
Out in the night to weep,
Over the bristling bent.
With my soul, it seemed, I stood
Alone in a moaning wood.

And my soul said, gazing at me,
“Shall I show you another land
Than other this flesh can see?”
And took into hers my hand.
We passed from the wood to a heath
As starved as the ribs of Death.

Three skeleton trees we pass,
Bare bones on an iron moor,
Where every leaf and the grass
Was a thorn and a thistle hoar.
And my soul said, looking on me,
“The past of your life you see.”

And a swine-herd passed with his swine,
Deformed; and I heard him growl;
Two eyes of a sottish shine
Leered under two brows as foul.
And my soul said, “This is the lust
That soils my limbs with the dust.”

And a goose wife hobbled by
On a crutch, with the devil’s geese;
A-mumbling how life is a lie,
And cursing my soul without cease.
And my soul said, “This is desire;
The meaning of life is higher.”

And we came to a garden, close
To a hollow of graves and tombs;
A garden as red as a rose
Hung over of obscene glooms;
The heart of each rose was a spark
That smouldered or splintered the dark.

And I was aware of a girl
With a wild-rose face, who came
With a mouth like a shell’s split pearl,
Rose-clad in a robe of flame;
And she plucked the roses and gave,
And my flesh was her veriest slave.

She vanished. My lips would have kissed
The flowers she gave me with sighs,
But they writhed in my hands and hissed,
In their hearts were a serpent’s eyes.
And my soul said, “Pleasure is she;
The joys of the flesh you see.”

And I bowed with a heart too weary,
That longed for rest, for sleep;
And my eyes were heavy and teary,
And yearned for a way to weep.
And my soul smiled, “This may be!
Will you know me and follow me?”

“My Heart Leaps Up” by William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

“Joy” by Clarissa Scott Delany

Joy shakes me like the wind that lifts a sail,
Like the roistering wind
That laughs through stalwart pines.
It floods me like the sun
On rain-drenched trees
That flash with silver and green.

I abandon myself to joy—
I laugh—I sing.
Too long have I walked a desolate way,
Too long stumbled down a maze

Woman in white boho style dress on a hot day under sun by the sea coast.

“Self” by James Oppenheim

Once I freed myself of my duties to tasks and people and went down to the cleansing sea…
The air was like wine to my spirit,
The sky bathed my eyes with infinity,
The sun followed me, casting golden snares on the tide,
And the ocean—masses of molten surfaces, faintly gray-blue—sang to my heart…

Then I found myself, all here in the body and brain, and all there on the shore:
Content to be myself: free, and strong, and enlarged:
Then I knew the depths of myself were the depths of space.
And all living beings were of those depths (my brothers and sisters)
And that by going inward and away from duties, cities, street-cars and greetings,
I was dipping behind all surfaces, piercing cities and people,
And entering in and possessing them, more than a brother,
The surge of all life in them and in me…

“Submerged” by Lola Ridge

I have known only my own shallows—
Safe, plumbed places,
Where I was wont to preen myself.

But for the abyss
I wanted a plank beneath
And horizons…

I was afraid of the silence
And the slipping toe-hold…

Oh, could I now dive
Into the unexplored deeps of me—
Delve and bring up and give
All that is submerged, encased, unfolded,
That is yet the best.

“Modern Love: XX” by George Meredith

I am not of those miserable males
Who sniff at vice, and, daring not to snap,
Do therefore hope for heaven. I take the hap
Of all my deeds. The wind that fills my sails,
Propels; but I am helmsman. Am I wrecked,
I know the devil has sufficient weight
To bear: I lay it not on him, or fate.
Besides, he’s damned. That man I do suspect
A coward, who would burden the poor deuce
With what ensues from his own slipperiness.
I have just found a wanton-scented tress
In an old desk, dusty for lack of use.
Of days and nights it is demonstrative,
That, like some aged star, gleam luridly.
If for those times I must ask charity,
Have I not any charity to give?